“Over the last week we have completed the excavation of the lake and GBI has cleared that area and feels confident that there are no remains that will be found in the lake,” Walker County Emergency Management Director David Ashburn said Wednesday. “At this time, we still have the facility secured and under guard. It is still under the search warrant while we take care of safety issues associated with the property.”
Workers are rebuilding the dam so the lake can fill back up, Ashburn said. They will reseed the clear-cut areas with grass and attempt to hand the property back over to the Marshes as unchanged as possible.
“We’ll keep the search warrant, which is probably the longest search warrant ever served in the state of Georgia, ongoing until that process is finished,” Ashburn said.
Ashburn hopes the recovery process will be completed next week. At that point, the Marshes may return to the property and the criminal investigation will continue.
Investigators have found 339 bodies on the property surrounding the crematory, and have identified 125 bodies to return to families.
Crematory operator Brent Marsh is in jail facing 204 counts of felony theft by deception for taking bodies and money for cremation, but not performing the service.
The family assistance center that was established at the Walker County Civic Center will close operation Friday. The DNA testing and family center will move to the Joint Operations Center hosted in the agricultural building. The center is still contacting and greeting new family members, Ashburn said.
Family briefings are still scheduled for 4 p.m. on Wednesdays. The toll-free number, (888) 887-1845, will be maintained “until all bodies that can be identified, are successfully identified,” Ashburn said